Tasting the Cuisine of a Rising Culinary Star: Kelly English wasn't named one of Food & Wine's Best Chefs of 2009 for nothing. At his new fine-dining Restaurant Iris, 2146 Monroe Ave. (tel. 901/590-2828; www.restaurantiris.com), French-Creole specialties are as inspired as they are delicious.
Savoring Soul Food: Not far from the Stax Museum, Four Way Restaurant, 998 Mississippi Blvd. tel. 901/507-1519), churns out comforting Southern dishes such as fried catfish, green beans, black-eyed peas and sweet-potato pie.
Agonizing Over Who Has the Best Barbecue: Some favor the dry, spice-rubbed ribs at the Rendezvous, 52 S. Second St. (tel. 901/523-2746; www.hogsfly.com), while others drool over the sloppy-wet, pulled-pork sandwiches at Corky's Ribs & BBQ, 5259 Poplar Ave. (tel. 901/685-9744; www.corkysmemphis.com). With dozens of dives, sit-down eateries, and drive-throughs devoted to 'cue, you could literally eat your way across Memphis to decide for yourself.
Best Spot for a Romantic Dinner: Currents, 50 Harbor Town Square (tel. 901/260-3333; www.riverinnmemphis.com), the fine-dining restaurant at the intimate, European-style River Inn of Harbor Town, is the perfect place to pop the question or to enjoy a superb meal with someone special. The posh decor, gracious service, and gourmet cuisine will help ensure an evening to remember.
Best for Kids: Like Nashville, downtown Memphis has a cavernous Spaghetti Warehouse, 40 W. Huling. (tel. 901/521-0907; www.meatballs.com), that's been a longtime favorite for children. They can dine in an old trolley car while deciding whether to order the burger or a plate of pasta and meatballs.
Best Nostalgic Diner: If you want to feel as if you've gone back in time, grab a booth at The Arcade Restaurant, 540 S. Main St. (tel. 901/526-5757; www.arcaderestaurant.com), a last-of-its-kind downtown institution. Home-style breakfasts, burgers, and pizzas are best bets at this old-school eatery that's anchored this corner since 1919.
Best Soul Food: What Swett's is to Nashville, the Four Way Restaurant, 998 Mississippi Blvd. (tel. 901/507-1519), is to Memphis -- a historic, minority-owned restaurant that makes the best sweet-potato pie, fried catfish, and black-eyed peas you're ever likely to encounter. Always busy, it's a spacious, family-friendly restaurant offering full service (as opposed to the cafeteria format of Swett's).
Best New Restaurant: Up-and-coming culinary star Kelly English wasn't named one of Food & Wine magazine's Best Chefs of 2009 for nothing. At his French-Creole Restaurant Iris, 2146 Monroe Ave. (tel. 901/590-2828; www.restaurantiris.com), located in a Victorian house in Midtown, he presides over unforgettably delectable multicourse meals. Even the leftovers are special, gift-wrapped in pretty boxes tied with gold ribbon.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.